The Lenoir City High School Sports Hall of Fame inducted its
newest class of athletes Saturday night. Hall members, families of new inductees, politicians and
members of the community all gathered to congratulate those being honored.
"You learn a lot
of life lessons and good lessons from being in sports," 2nd District U.S. Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn.,
said as the ceremony begin.
Lenoir City's cheerleaders led the room in a quick cheer and
current Hall of Fame members were asked to come to the front of the room before individuals were
recognized. Deceased members were first recognized for their contributions to LCHS.
new awards were then given out - the Ron Tilley Service Award, given to Paul Brewster, and the
Willie Joe Smalley Courage Award, presented to Wayne Anthony.
Anthony, who was a longtime
high school coach, has suffered for many years from Multiple Sclerosis. "Wayne was an excellent
football coach," Craig Tipton, who Anthony coached under early in his career, said.
new inductee to be recognized was Sandy White Robinson, a former girls' basketball player at the
school who graduated in 1957. "This has been such an honor and such a privilege," she said. "I'm
just this little, tiny plaque on this great big wall of some wonderful athletes."
Matt Hurst, the most recent graduate to be inducted. Hurst finished his high school basketball
career in 1992.
"Behind every athlete here you had great coaches early on," Hurst said. "I
was blessed to have some great coaches."
Hurst told stories from his time as a member of the
Panthers as well as his time playing at Mars Hill College. He spoke fondly of several former
Bobby Wright spoke primarily of his love for Lenoir City, mentioning his pleasure
with the Panthers' win over West High School the night before on the football field.
the things I noticed was the enthusiasm of the fans and how they supported the team," he said. "It's
always been that way. I moved away from Lenoir City two days after I graduated from high school. I
love the town, I love the people and I miss it a lot."
Wright also took time to remember two
of those honored earlier in the evening who had passed away, his former coach Willie Joe Smalley,
and his brother Roy Wright.
As Bill Wade took his turn to speak, he said he felt lucky when
his family moved to Lenoir City - for the opportunity to play basketball in a gymnasium as well as
to play for coach Tommy Bartlett.
Wade had moved around much of his childhood before landing
at LCHS just shy of 16 years old.
"I never expected to be up here," Wade said. "It's an honor
and privilege to be here. This has always felt like home to me."
Gary "Frog" Dye was next to
address the room. He was recognized for his time playing golf at the high school.
"I want to
thank my wife, Becky Dye," he said. "I want to thank the Hall of Fame committee for voting for me. I
want to thank my mom and dad for having me."
Finishing up the ceremony was the final
inductee, Ron Tilley. Tilley was being recognized for his contributions outside the field of play to
the LCHS sports program.
"I love East Tennessee," he said. "I love Lenoir City. They've both
been very good to me. I love the Hall of Fame and what it is trying to do and the excitement it
presents. Tonight, you have been very, very good to me."